Editor: To Pinellas County supervisors and true animal lovers everywhere:
I would like to introduce you to one of my three housecats. His name is Ziggy; he was adopted by my daughter while in high school and became my ward upon her departure to college. Ziggy was a loving fun and happy cat.
He regularly walked with us to visit the neighbors. If we went inside, he did, too. He loved dogs, brazenly meeting strange dogs whose owners held the leash. He became everyone’s friend.
Ziggy was constantly making friends of any animal or human that would be his friend. There were those that wanted Ziggy’s and his two sister’s territory.
Feral, mean and wild, they attacked relentlessly. At my own back door they attacked and even challenged me, a human. Ziggy was a big, strong cat and would defend himself, his sisters and our property. He never lost – except his life.
Ziggy recently lost weight quickly. He became lethargic and couldn’t even come to sit on a lap or his pillow on our bed. We took him to the vet office and had tests run. He had a viral form of feline leukemia. This disease was given to him by a feral cat, fed by a well-meaning human with little understanding of the facts. It is a form for which there is neither inoculation nor cure. Ziggy was buried with his best friend Boomerang, our cattle show dog that died.
Why would I tell you this story? It is because there are hundreds of feral cats in our neighborhood. And many who feed them illegally. I have called and reported them. They are usually warned and that is all. They even understand the law – after it being explained to them that they can feed the cats but not leave food out for them. I have talked to those that feed them. They tell me of the “catch-neuter-release” program. However, those same people that tout it only feed all feral cats and do not catch or neuter them. They regularly feed mothers with kittens and do not capture or neuter even though they say that is the program they are on. We have kittens in our sewers, in our garages and carports, and in sheds; they are raised under hedges and in woods nearby, even in my own yard!
Why don’t these people actually capture and neuter them? Because they don’t want to pay for it or be responsible for the tests against disease that must be performed before release to assure the safety of all animals and people around them.
Meet Sophie, Ziggy’s sister. She has been attacked at least 15 times in three months by feral cats on my property. Sophie is flighty and nervous all the time now. She is afraid to be alone on our property. Her sister Sonia (a domesticated adopted feral cat) tries to protect her but usually Sophie has already been scratched and hurt before Sonia arrives and chases the vicious intruder away. These attacks usually happen within a few feet of our back door. At times the intruder will not leave, even when I challenge the intruder. These feral animals are vicious to pets, period. I have captured at least eight of these vicious feral animals in the last couple of months. The last attack was so vicious that I got out my rifle to end it. The intruder left as I approached with the rifle. Yes, I would have fired the rifle aiming to kill in order to protect my property and pets. I will use lethal force to protect my property and pets as allowed under Florida law if it ever comes to it.
How many hundreds or even thousands of household pets have to die in this county from these diseased feral felines? When will we see a system that actually eradicates and ends this entire problem? A problem that was caused by well meaning “cat lovers” who were irresponsible and uninformed?
Thank you for your time and effort in reading this review of facts and considerations before making any change to the current laws and for working for the people of this county rather than a small fervent group that is generally uninformed and wrong in their thought process.